Chicago — Derrick Rose scored 33 points and Luol Deng added 23 as the Chicago Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks, 95-83 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals yesterday to take a 3-2 lead.
Taj Gibson had 11 points — all in the fourth quarter.
Rose also scored 11 in the fourth, and the Bulls pounded the Hawks 26-15 in the quarter.
Game 6 is Thursday (tomorrow in Manila) in Atlanta, and Chicago is one win from its first conference finals appearance since 1998, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen wrapped up their second championship three-peat.
Rose showed why he is the league’s youngest MVP, hitting 11 of 24 shots and finishing with nine assists. It was a big improvement over Game 4 when he needed 32 shots to score 34 points.
That was enough to offset another strong performance by Atlanta’s Jeff Teague. Filling in for the injured Kirk Hinrich, he delivered his third 21-point game of the series.
Josh Smith scored 16 points for the Hawks, while Joe Johnson had 15 and Al Horford added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
It hasn’t been an easy postseason for the Bulls after they stormed to a league-leading 62 wins. They got pushed by Indiana in the first round and are getting all they can handle from the Hawks, yet they are in a good position thanks to a strong fourth quarter.
They led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter but were trailing 70-69 early in the fourth when they went on a 9-0 run.